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The Silent Language

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  624 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Antropologo americano. Nasce nel 1914 a Webster Groves (Missouri), studia nelle Università di Denver e dell’Arizona (master), conseguendo poi il dottorato alla Columbia University di New York (1942). Dal 1942 al 1946 è arruolato nell’esercito, prima sul fronte europeo poi nel Pacifico. Al ritorno si stabilisce a Santa Fe, Nuovo Messico. Impegnato a osservare sul campo gli ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 3rd 1973 by Anchor (first published 1965)
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Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: rhetoric
Though this book played an important role in identifying supra-linguistic aspects of communication, Halls methodology was developed within a context of American domination. Most of his evidence is anecdotal, and most of the anecdotes occur in situations where Americans are in power and "confused" by their inability to communicate with or control the behavior of people in other countries. His examples include diplomat to foreign citizen, teacher to foreign student, military to foreign government, ...more
Joel Arnold
Mar 02, 2012 rated it liked it
16 - good story of cross-cultural confusion
17- cultures have an appropriate "lead time" - how much advance notice you must give about something to plan ahead.
35 - there are no basic, elemental units for culture and therefore it is impossible to teach culture the way you teach language. Some of this is because culture is a deep, unconscious thing.
39 - "culture hides much more than it reveals, and strangely enough what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants. Years of study
Jan 16, 2014 added it
Shelves: anthropology
Let's start by saying that this is, in many ways, an embarrassingly dated work.

(lifts up unwieldy metal frame labeled HISTORICAL CONTEXT, tosses it out the window)

Edward T. Hall writes with a shocking paucity of empirical evidence, writes entirely in vague assertions and anecdotes, with riffs based on the now highly discredited ideas of functionalist social science, tries to defend the multiplicity of culture while still asserting himself from the position of the all-seeing eye of the American s
George Siehl
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture, owned, language
Hall's, Silent Language, reveals how one's culture produces unconscious behaviors that allow others to read messages that are being sent unknowingly: the "Silent Language." The 1959 book was meant for lay readers and for professionals in the fields of anthropology and linguistics. It got a bit dense for this lay reader, but I am glad to have read the book. In many cases, Hall offers examples of real world situations that clarify difficult passages in the text.

We may have heard of professional po
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Can get very technical. I admire the writer for putting out such a well-written book about technicalities of Culture. His consistent crediting to his colleagues and co-authors gave it very humble touch.

Sets-Isolates-Patterns in 3 levels of integration informal-formal-technical stems out of Primary Messaging Systems used in communication between organisms. Communication lens used to view and explain the culture was used profoundly with great diligence and attention to detail.

I already started t
Amber Sparks
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very good
Jo Poladoghly
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very concise, to-the-point read. My only issue with it was the fallacy of generalization, otherwise the author did well to scrutinize cultural aspects that we tend to ignore.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Outdated but really interesting foundational text on intercultural and nonverbal communication.
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
The cover of the book has a quote: "'The Silent Language' shows how cultural factors influence the individual behind his back, without his knowledge"

well... it doesn't!

This book is about establishing a template for anthropologists to use when they study different cultures, this template can be followed to identify and 'define' the different components of that culture. It's quite an ambitious goal, but as we know today, he failed; the way different cultures developed and converged from the 50's u
Oct 10, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting points and anecdotes made, but it seems to suffer from that disease of the mid-20th-century, where everything has to be made into a science, very technically analyzed, stages and pieces name, a system of parts derived. If there is such a thing, sure, but any particular theory that points out preferred vocabulary terms and say, 'This complex phenomena is made by some combination of these four principles', well. To be fair, he is very clear about how this is just a rough outline, ...more
Jan 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Melanie by: Public library - withdrawn section (25 cents)
Dated, but very interesting. I have to say that I enjoyed his examples and anecdotes more than the actual working out of his thesis, but I learned a lot about how cultural assumptions about time , space, and communication are established and learned, and how important it is to take them into account in cross-cultural encounters--whether by individuals or diplomats representing nations.

A favorite quote:

"The best reason for the layman to spend time studying culture is that he can learn something
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was ok

"Most of what is known about communication," Hall notes, "has been learned from the study of language" (p. 1010). "Some [languages] are so dissimilar [...] that they force the speaker into different images of reality" (p. 101).

The ways we experience life are influenced by language, as we create patterns --> sets --> arrangements, and we are always interpreting.

He looks into how culture and language has an influence on conditioning behavior, and makes comparisons between different societi
Dec 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Hall presents arguments about the use of time and space in communication in multiple cultures. he argues that they are just as much part of the communication system as language and harder to learn. The core of these arguments are now somewhat standard in the social sciences and linguistics. He expresses what could be complex ideas in a way that is both accessible and entertaining. He notes that it is written for an 'American' audience so that they might understand the differences between themsel ...more
Mina Villalobos
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mina by: Jennifer
Interesting book on the nature of culture and how it can be observed and studied. I especially liked the anecdotal examples and the views into different cultures. Being a non-US citizen, I recognized myself in some of the examples and I saw things that intrigued me the study of others. I really liked the division of cultural and how we can recognize and go from one level to another -the formal, informal and technical, and how these things can relate in the micro scale of the individual and how d ...more
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Social science students, general public
This book works well as an introduction to cultural anthropology, or social science in general. Hall is a master of the ideas and subjects he covers, tying them together with wit and style. I was surprised to come across this by accident after years of studying social science, as I have not found a better writer for the material. Well written and straight forward. This should be a standard text for all social science students, especially useful as an introduction.

The book covers several aspects
Rachel S
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Rachel by: Matt
Shelves: nonfiction, science
My brother read this for a class and passed it on to me. I remember reading it on my lunch break while working at the plastic factory before my first year in Korea. It's one of those books that wasn't the greatest to get through and a bit antiquated in parts, but I still think about it from time to time. Actually was just watching this RSA Animate, "The Secret Powers of Time," ( the other day and it reminded me of a part of this book where the author disc ...more
David O'Neill
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Edward T. Hall provides a theory and framework for analyzing and understanding culture. The aspects of his exposition I found interesting and useful include the definition of informal, formal and technical modes of influence along with a multidimensional map of culture. The dimensions of the map expose the areas of informational exchange that are based on evolution and exist across the animal kingdom.

The stories and theoretical materials are very interesting. I would like to have seen more infor
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Regarded as the Father of Intercultural Communication, Hall demonstrates his experience with, sensitivity towards, and respect of "other" cultures. Citizens of this world Sneed to read this book, helping them explore the unexplored and see the unseen in their unconscious cultural practices. Professionals from various worlds (education, business, health, policis) should keep this book close, ready to quick retrieval.
Nicole Lisa
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
Really helpful for thinking about culture while living and working abroad. Also just fascinating on its own. I have no idea if there is more updated books on this subject. I read this because it's on the list in the back of Hellspark by Janet Kagan, which I loved.
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book has really benefited me in several ways .
it illustrates how different cultures are having different verbal and non verbal communication styles
how to understand a specific culture by understanding its dimensions
hmm i might found some difficulties while reading it . it's quite deep with depth information but with twice and a focus reading you'll get what the author is trying to tell you.
quite interesting .
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
2 stars - It was OK. I think I had expectations for this book that it did not live up to. This is to be a book to help people understand that how we (Westerners) approach life and communication can be (and is) very different to how people in other cultures approach life and communication. It is almost a textbook. Quite dry. Has some good examples, but could have been written much better - and more dynamically.
Laura Martinez
May 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who are into sociology and people-people
This was required reading for a Cultural Education class I took and I still think about it to this day. It was a really informative piece about the barriers we put up with communication/ social/ cultural norms. But what happens when we break down these barriers and what hangs behind our words that we are unknowingly communicating?
Jun 04, 2011 rated it liked it
A book that examines how unwritten rules in different countries affect its citizens. In America, an informal country with only a few ceremonies, ones that make it hard to know what is right or wrong, citizens may end up breaking the law by accident.
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
For a book about the silent language, it's an awful lot about the not silent language.
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Would like to re-read this, actually, outside of the academic setting I initially read it. Probably best read when there are people around to discuss the topics.
I's Page
Oct 12, 2013 added it
Shelves: my-book
its the best way to know other
Maged Zakher
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great read and a very useful reference
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
A very interesting read, although the book is a bit dated!
May 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Exciting because I'm interested in the field. But I imagine that most would simply consider it educational.
The best element of this book regards the conversation on how time is heavily based on culture.
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Born in Webster Groves, Missouri, Hall taught at the University of Denver, Colorado, Bennington College in Vermont, Harvard Business School, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University in Illinois and others. The foundation for his lifelong research on cultural perceptions of space was laid during World War II when he served in the U.S. Army in Europe and the Philippines.

From 1933 th

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